‘Always Sunny’ ready to take its place in television history
The gang from Paddy’s Irish Pub will take its place in television history Wednesday when the 14th season of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” launches on FXX. The new season will put the cable series in a tie with “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet” for the longest-running live-action comedy series.
Charlie Day, who plays Charlie, jokes that when the show was being created, he didn’t change his character’s name from his real name because he didn’t expect the series to last that long.
“In hindsight, I am glad I don’t walk down the street and people yell ‘Kramer’ at me or something. I would prefer they know me personally if they are a big fan,” Day says. “We were just happy to get the opportunity to work. We made the show because we just wanted work and to act.
“We were asked to write as well and we picked that up. For me personally, I just wanted the opportunity to do it and the fact they kept giving us the opportunity is why we are still here. I’m still happy to have a job.”
Part of the longevity comes from how “Always Sunny” has continued its offbeat brand of humor while under the radar. Cable programs often get more chances to survive and hang around because the ratings expectations are not as high as with network shows. Being on cable meant the show could get away with strange storylines featuring Day, Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito.
Plots for the season include Charlie doing a period piece, Dennis attempting a one-act play, Dee cutting her hair and Frank performing a death scene. The topics look tame compared to some of the past episodes that dealt with cannibalism, grave robbing, pretending to have AIDS, blackface, welfare fraud and kidnapping. All of which have been played for comedy.
Taking on outlandish topics is just part of the way the team has gone out of its way to make the comedy as different from other live-action shows as possible. In contrast to a show like “Friends” where everything is bright and clean, the sets for “Always Sunny” have always been as grungy as possible. The dark and dreary look offers a contrast to the bright and cheery music that’s used on the show.
Day compares “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” to programs like “Night Court” or “Welcome Back Kotter,” where the sets were designed to show a more realistic look at the underbelly of the world. He thinks that immediately creates an underdog feeling for the characters.
The entire cast is excited about this big season, but especially McElhenney. It picks up with the ending of the 13th season, where his character Mac had come out to his father. But he doesn’t expect life in Philadelphia to be that different.
“We have always wanted to make sure that even though the characters might change, they don’t evolve. That means we didn’t want Mac to become a sweeter person or a better person or a more endearing person or a nicer person,” McElhenney says.
Olson has seen that approach with Dee, the only woman of the group. No matter how hard she tries, it has been impossible for Dee to have any kind of significant win in her life. This season her male counterparts will go crazy when she does something as mundane as getting her hair cut.
It’s the desperation Dee brings to the group that Olson loves so much.
“I like doing things that are different and getting to play characters that you are not seeing everyone play all the time,” Olson says. “It’s really fun to play — especially in this day and age — a character that allows all this misogyny and really doesn’t know how to deal with it other than yelling.”